Signs of many types of disease often make their appearance in the blood. In this article, we will be looking at only a few of the more widespread disorders involving the major substances in the blood.
Before delving into common blood diseases, it’s important to know what makes up our blood so you can know how blood diseases occur. The following are the constituents or substances of the blood:
The red blood cells make up 45 percent of the blood. It is what gives the blood its color. The red blood cells contain Hemoglobin, a protein substance. As the blood passes through the capillaries of the lungs, red blood cells release carbon dioxide, a waste gas, and pick up oxygen, which attaches very readily to the hemoglobin.
There are a number of different types of white blood cells (Leukocytes), some originating in the bone marrow and some in the lymph glands. These cells are the body’s first line of defense against bacterial invaders. When bacteria enter the body, white blood cells are produced in great numbers. They travel to the infection and engulf the invaders.
The platelets (thrombocytes) are minute colorless bodies that are also manufactured in the marrow. Their main role is to help blood to clot.
The plasma is the liquid portion of blood, as distinct from the blood corpuscles. It is a watery solution containing all the vital substances (except oxygen) that must be transported throughout the body. These vital substances include digested foodstuffs for the body cells, salts, hormones, antibodies, enzymes and substances essential to the formation of a blood clot. In addition, blood plasma absorbs and carries away waste products from the body cells. It also provides a medium in which corpuscles can move freely.
The following are the diseases that affect the blood:
This condition is caused by a deficiency in the number of red blood cells or the amount of hemoglobin in these cells. It may be the result of hemorrhage, iron deficiency, disease, or extreme overexposure to radium or X-rays. The treatment varies, depending on the cause.
In this condition there is an excess of red blood cells. It may be a hereditary condition, or the result of a decrease in the plasma or of a disease. The symptoms include weakness, malaise, headaches and nosebleed. Radioactive phosphorus may be used in treatment
A sudden decline in the number of white blood cells marks this disorder. it may be brought on by exposure to radioactivity or poisoning with drugs, antibiotics, or other substances. Symptoms include sores in the mouth and fever.
Here the number of white blood cells increases, sometimes enormously. There may be an associated anemia and swelling of the Lymph Nodes. The disease may take an acute or chronic form. The cause is not fully understood. Treatment includes the use of X-rays, radioactive isotopes and chemical medicines
This hereditary disorder is caused by a deficiency in the clotting mechanism. Unlike the other blood diseases described here, hemophilia is not associated with an abnormal blood count. The condition varies greatly from extremely mild cases, in which there is only a slight delay in clotting time, to dangerous and uncontrolled bleeding. Plasma, whole blood, and a recently developed clot-forming protein (called antihemophilia factor) are used in treatment
In this disorder there is a deficiency of blood platelets, whose function is to aid in clotting. The result may be purple patches—evidence of bleeding from small blood vessels—in the mucous membranes and skin, a condition known as purpura. Certain diseases and chemical poisonings or an overactive Spleen may be responsible.
Blood count is the determination of the number of particles in a cubic millimeter (a small fraction of a drop) of blood. An actual count is made, under a microscope, of the number of particles in an exceedingly small, accurately measured volume of diluted blood, and from that the number of particles in a cubic millimeter of whole blood is calculated.
The three main kinds of particles in the blood are counted separately. In a cubic millimeter of blood from an average healthy person, there are about 5 million red cells, 5,000 to 10,000 white cells, and about 200,000 to 500,000 platelets.
Sometimes special stains are used on the microscope sample in order to distinguish the proportion of different kinds of white cells and platelets.
If a person’s blood count differs greatly from the average, the doctor has valuable clues in making or confirming a diagnosis. A low red-cell count may indicate various kinds of Anemia. A high white-cell count may signify leukemia or certain infections. The platelet count is usually low in leukemia and some other blood diseases.
Some antibiotics and other medicines also tend to upset the blood count. When these are administered, blood counts are made in order to obtain warnings of possible side effects.
Blood poisoning is the presence in the bloodstream of bacteria from a local infection, such as a boil, an abscessed tooth, or an infected scratch or cut. Blood poisoning is also a grave risk in clandestine abortion because bacteria may be introduced into the uterus by instruments that have not been properly sterilized.
Many different bacteria can cause blood poisoning but Streptococcus and Staphylococcus are the most common. The body’s defenses normally keep such infections localized.
Physical manipulations, such as lancing a boil or Curettage of the uterus, seems to increase the danger of bacteria entering the blood. If pus as well as bacteria is present in circulating blood, the condition is known as Pyemia.
Once in the bloodstream, bacteria can produce abscesses throughout the body and in vital organs such as the lungs and the heart.
The condition is very serious. The symptoms vary. There is usually weakness accompanied by chills and fever. If blood poisoning is suspected, a doctor may confirm the diagnosis by growing the bacteria in the laboratory from the samples of infected blood.
Prompt treatment is necessary, including medication with Antibiotics and complete bed rest in a hospital. Treatment must be continued until every trace of the infection has disappeared.
Septicemia and bacteremia are two medical terms for blood poisoning. Toxemia refers to a condition in which bacterial Toxins are present in the victim’s bloodstream.
Sources and References
Reader’s Digest Family Health Guide and Medical Encyclopedia
Anemia in The Pediatric Patient by Patrick G Gallagher
Diagnosis and Care of Patients with Mild Haemophilia: Practical Recommendations for Clinical Management
Biomarkers of Sepsis by James Faix